1. Beginning the process
Are you eligible to make a complaint?
1. You MUST be a client of the solicitor firm
2. Your complaint to the solicitors MUST be made within six months of completion of your business or within six months of you discovering a cause for concern, whichever is later. Once the solicitors have investigated your complaint and if you are still not happy, then you have a further six months to refer the matter to the Law Society.
3. If your complaint relates to the administration of an Estate, we can investigate a complaint from you if you are the personal representative, including if your status is as co-executor with one of the solicitors in the firm handling the estate. As the personal representative, you are the solicitor's client and the only person who can complain about the solicitor's service or conduct.
However, if you are a beneficiary and you have concerns about how an estate is progressing you should contact the personal representative and if they share your views you should ask them to complain to the Society. If the personal representative does not agree that there is a problem, then you will have to obtain advice from your own solicitor.
The one exception to this rule is where the solicitor is acting solely as the executor, without an independent executor. In that case we will ask the solicitor to provide information to enable you to decide whether you need to take advice from your own solicitor.
We can investigate a complaint from
you where you are seeking to complain about a solicitor you have instructed as
an Insolvency Practitioner.
Please note that the Law Society
cannot investigate complaints against accountants or any other non-solicitor
professionals acting as Insolvency Practitioners.
Registered European Lawyers
We can investigate a complaint from you where you are seeking to complain about a solicitor who is practising in Northern Ireland as a Registered European Lawyer. You must be the client of the particular Registered European Lawyer you are seeking to complain about.
4. The following are the types of issues that the Society may consider as inadequate professional service and may be able to help you with:
• Unreasonable delays in dealing with your case.
• Failing to reply to telephone calls, emails or letters.
• Giving you inaccurate or incomplete information.
• Failing to hand over your papers if you have asked for them and do not owe any money to the solicitor.
The following are a list of the types of issues which the Society may consider to be professional misconduct:
• Suspected dishonesty.
• Mishandling of client's money.
• Acting in the same case for you and for others where your interests are in conflict with theirs.
However, if your complaint relates to your bill of costs please click here
The circumstances when the Law Society is unable to help you
• We are unable to provide you with legal advice or a second opinion on the legal advice you have already received.If you are unhappy with advice received or disagree with it, you will have to obtain a second opinion from another qualified solicitor. Please refer to the solicitor’s directory which you can access by clicking here.
• We cannot adjudicate on complicated issues of fact or law, or comment on the outcome of your court case.
• We do not have the power to order your solicitor to pay compensation to you for professional negligence. **Please see the note on this matter at the bottom of this page.
• We are unable to compel a solicitor to take on your case if s/he does not want to do so.
• We cannot tell your solicitor how to handle your case or maintain a monitoring role on your case.
• We do not have the power to investigate a complaint about other branches of the legal profession such as District Judges, Lay Magistrates, Barristers and County Court or High Court Judges.
• We cannot investigate a complaint if the work done by the solicitor is under a practising certificate issued in another country e.g. in England, Wales, Scotland or the Republic of Ireland. (You should contact the Law Society in the relevant jurisdiction).
• We cannot investigate and provide redress where you are complaining about someone else's solicitor. (You should discuss any concerns with your own solicitors).
If your complaint involves both inadequate service and allegations of negligence, then the negligence claim should be concluded before the complaint is pursued.
Often the facts which give rise to negligence are the same as those which give rise to the complaint to the Society and if the negligence claim is resolved successfully in your favour, it may not always be appropriate.
**Negligence is generally a mistake made by your solicitor which causes you as the client to suffer financial loss. If you believe your solicitor has acted negligently and you wish to pursue a claim, you can do so by instructing another solicitor to pursue the matter through the Courts on your behalf.
2 - Contacting your solicitor to make a complaint